I don’t like you

A little girl

With golden hair reaching her tan

Told me, tongue to one side, half-licked lips

I don’t like you.

Afterward I asked

A disinterested person

Who was paid to iron my dad’s shirts and begrudgingly

Watch me until he returned

Why would someone not like me?

I hadn’t said this with some inflated belief that I deserved universal liking

But rather, an innocent question

That first time

Branding with the word knife

The girl with flax hair

Didn’t include me in hopscotch or skip rope

Ring a ring a roses, a pocket full of posies, a-tissue, a-tissue, they all fall down

She was the most popular and they chose her for Mary in the school play

Whilst I played a donkey, braying when gift bearing wise men arrived

The local woman who ironed my dad’s shirts

Begrudged making me a canned supper

I was a nuisance, playing in her dour house until 6pm every day

Throwing dirt on drab paving stones, pretending to be invisible

I don’t know why

She crossly replied

Her forehead wrinkled with steam

Curly hair rising, sleeves rolled up, sweat stains coloring

Maybe you’re a nasty little girl.

The next day when my father dropped me off on his bike

At the school gates

I walked the other way

I have been ever since

Learning to salvage myself

From unexpected spite.

If I met the peach-kneed Danish girl today

She’d likely have track-marks and bruised eyes

Turned out she was beaten beneath her starched frocks

Turning the wickedness back into the world

Isn’t that what hurt children do?

Perhaps it’s not wise to always listen to your elders

I’d warn the five-year old me

Playing with empty hands on the stoop of someone else’s street.

As an adult, when someone doesn’t like me

Which happens like storms and rain in May

Their voice reminds me of that first loneliness.

Children who stop believing in a kind world

Feeling sharp thorned scorn

Grow into adults who keep themselves sheltered

From the humans in wolf skin, prowling outside

Like castaway cries of surprise

When we think we are safe and

Still, we trip and fall.

44 thoughts on “I don’t like you

  1. In this age when bullying seem to be the norm…this is a most appropriate verse for people to read and comprehend.

  2. People do have often a way of both concealing and sharing their pain. It is hard to know what may be behind a mask of perfection. Still, the wounds they inflict are real.

  3. So many of us are grown-up children who have stopped believing in a kind world. I have been disliked by people throughout my life. Because my ethnic heritage is from Africa. Because I read a lot. Because I don’t speak with the right vernacular. Because of the music I enjoy. It took so many years to learn not to take it personally, and to accept that people choose to unleash their own self-hatred and insecurities and hurts toward people who are an easier target.
    Yes, I am among those who learned to shelter myself from those stray bullets. But I also learned from the hatred of others to be a kind person; to accept people’s differences, and to learn to understand, and even show forgiveness. Kindness and mercy is so much greater, so much more powerful, and so much more lasting than hatred could ever be.

  4. That always seemed to be one of the cruelest things a child could say to another. You built your story up very well and then ended with a quiet bang. Well done!

  5. Whoa, I don’t know where to begin with this one. I could write an essay. I could start with the kids I’ve been working with in the school and all the sh*t I see there going on inside these wee ones: the hurt/anger/angst/pain. One can hardly imagine what must go on in their homes….and how this plays out in the classroom—words like “I will kill you” (a much more ‘today’s world” version of your amazing poem, but from a 6 year old child born in the 2000’s. But then I think of me…the old fart that I am, and what I am going through presently, and completely relate to this kid in your title, and how I must resist the urge to dislike and be cranky with so many folks myself. I’m starting to understand why this is, where it comes from (so long ago) and how maybe, just maybe, I can change it and be the better part of myself, because I know she exists too! xo

  6. “Hurt people, hurt people.” It’s cyclical and often isn’t changed or stopped until the past hurt is acknowledged, dealt with, and nearly erased.

    “Isn’t that what hurt children do?”

    Children can also be brutally honest and successful at cruelty, much of which are learned behaviors.

  7. First off you are no old fart! Second off, AMEN to all of the above! I do think we’ve lost the plot with kids and what is right and what isn’t. I don’t know where to start, other than to say if we could stop it when it was in its infancy wouldn’t the world be a nicer place? Maybe it’s human nature, I don’t know. I’d like to think it’s more nurture than nature but some days I just don’t know! You may be cranky but your heart is in the right place so I do not think you would be truly unkind.

  8. Absolutely right it was one of those soul crushing things. Thank you dear one. I miss you writing! Nag Nag! But I hope you are having fun wherever you are and I so appreciate you reading xo

  9. You know what is funny? (Being racially abused is never funny). As a kid I was so white looking despite my mom being from Africa. I LONGED to look like I was African and I didn’t at all and I was picked on for being so fair/white. It is absurd isn’t it? I’m so sorry that happened you are SO beautiful both inside and out and anyone who doesn’t know that about you is insane. Well I actually think they are just jealous. You sound like the perfect person, you read a lot, you are ethnically from Africa and don’t forget you are super-intelligent and compassionate. THEIR LOSS TOTALLY. But easy to say, not so easy to forget the taunts. I still think of them too it doesn’t ruin me but it affects how we grow up and as you say, we may stop believing in a kind world even as we wish we could. You are so right about why people do it, but that is no excuse, if one person can not do it, we all can choose not to do it. You DID learn to be kind despite not being treated with kindness all of the time and I RESPECT that more than anything else, because it would have been far easier to be a really bad person but you chose the higher and harder road. KUDOS and much respect as that makes the world a better place I’m certain of that. Why people find difference such an issue is beyond me, but they do. I have an accent and I’m often picked on for it, I don’t get it, I really don’t. As you say, forgiveness counts too but sometimes I’m too angry to forgive although it’s a work in progress 😉 You are wonderful and so right about kindness being more lasting than hate. One of many reasons I think so much of you and am so glad to know you here.

  10. Thank you for your comment, I am sorry as I know that memory must have been painful and I would not wish that upon you or anyone else. However I hope very much that is a distant and not to be repeated memory and that today is a sunny day with forgiveness and love. Thank you so much for reading my poem

  11. Dearest Meno lovely one, I get so happy seeing your beautiful candle burning on my site and it honors me that you read my work thank you thank you dear one.

  12. Yet, I do believe there are many…too many…who share similar hidden und unspoken of memories. Your writing has given them a voice in the light of compassion.

  13. Very true dear Brenda – thank you so much for reading me and commenting I am so grateful to you and glad you care about this as we make a difference by caring xo

  14. “I don’t like you either, but that’s irrelevant,
    because I don’t really like anyone…
    except those nasty ginger-haired types…”

    is what my reply would have been to that iron clad lady lol

  15. lol, I’m sleep -deprived, so I tend to ramble on. but yeah! I mean I should have been your sister then, as she would have had her earful of me and then some. I was fierce-tempered as a child, probably from having been raised among wolves. ha

  16. I was a donkey’s rear end (I was so tempted to write ass) for a school play when I was little. I was so claustrophobic in the costume, I couldn’t do it, I felt sick.
    The following year I was Snow White. I think the teachers must have felt bad… 😊
    Another heart breaking truth you’ve written in your gorgeous way.

  17. This made me laugh so much! I love it we are birds of a feather aren’t we?!!!! xoxoxo (I can totally see you as snow white far more than the donkey’s ass!) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  18. HA! I love it when you ramble and you are NEVER imprecise! I wish you would have been my sister. So much. I’d have chosen you out of all the potential sisters in the world actually. Then again have you seen The Cement Garden 😉

  19. hahahaha I am so glad.
    You know, if I ever do write that book about our crazy life, maybe that should be the title…’donkey’s ass’. And considering my blog mascot it Basil the donkey, it just seems perfect Bahahahaha

  20. You are giving me the giggles because I think of Basil in Faulty Towers (shows my age!) for some reason Basil cracks me up as a name so you had me at that! I must find your very first post!

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